Nicholas Bielby applauds organisation ...plus imagination
I welcomed Collins' Pathways as an attractive, wide-ranging and balanced reading scheme when it came out in 1996, and each time I look at it, it seems to get better. Now, with Pathways to Literacy and Collins Primary Writing materials, it becomes a comprehensive programme, adapted to the National Literacy Framework.
Pathways to Literacy provides teaching and study materials related to the Pathways books - both the original scheme books by well-known writers and the modern classics included in the scheme as Landmark books. It's organised in terms of shared, guided and independent reading and writing activities, and it is easy to find materials related to specific objectives. Useful notes cover the texts and teaching objectives and activities, and cater for individual assessment, showing what skills to watch for and record in children's responses.
As one would expect from Collins' impressive team of writers, the activity materials are sound and imaginative: for example, the comprehension questions asked about the stage 7 poems are designed not to test, but to lead children into a deeper understanding of how the poems work. At the higher stages some of the work is really challenging. The book about the Irish Famine is both balanced and heart-rendingly distressing, and the task of collecting evidence for and against the statement, "The Almighty sent a potato blight, but the English created a Famine" will stretch both the intellectual grasp and moral imagination of children.
At the same time, the work for less confident readers, based on the Longdale Park strand of school-based stories, remains manageable but interesting. There is nothing second-best about the imaginative requirements of the activities. Overall, these materials provide valuable support and suggest-ions, further strengthening a good reading scheme.